Cooking food for dogs is a great thing to do, but it’s important to ensure you are giving them all the right nutrients. This guide will help you to do that.
Please note that this post is not sponsored and I have written it because of my genuine interest in this area.
Summary of this Guide to Cooking Food for Dogs
This cooking food for dogs guide provides you with:
- the reasons why your dog will benefit from homecooked food
- links to vet-approved homecooked dog food recipes
- advice about cooking balanced, nutritionally-complete meals for your dog
- links to research, courses and businesses that can help you cook for your dog successfully
- foods you must NOT feed to your dog
Why would I want to cook for my dog?
Let’s face it, there are many reasons why you might want to avoid feeding your pet commercially-prepared dog food. Here are just some of them:
Whatever your reason, cooking food for dogs at home is a positive alternative that can bring about tremendous benefits both for you, and your canine compadre. I find it quite a pleasurable, bonding, and strangely humbling, experience cooking for Coco.
However, to get it right, you do need to have an understanding of your dog’s nutritional requirements and ensure you are adding the right supplements to keep them healthy and active.
What are the benefits of homemade dog food?
There are many benefits to cooking food for dogs at home. It means that you can take control of exactly what your dog is eating and tailor their diet to meet specific health needs.
In addition, you can introduce more healthy foods that are known to be good for your dog but that aren’t included in most commercially-prepared foods. This includes fresh fruits, legumes, grains and vegetables.
However, it is important to remember that there are certain things that you must NOT give to a dog – the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has an informative list of Toxic Food for Dogs.
Also very important is ensuring that the food you prepare for your dog is nutritionally complete and balanced. See the sections on dog nutrition below.
Can I make food for dogs with sensitive stomachs?
Yes, you are much more likely to be able to tailor your dog’s food to deal with their sensitive tummy if you cook for them yourself.
Much of course depends on the sensitivity and it is always advisable to take a vet’s advice if you think your dog has an issue. Vets with experience in nutrition can sometimes offer online tele-consultations – for example, you can book a vegan vet 25 minute teleconsultation here for £54. This is not just relevant if you are vegan – there are many dogs who can have negative reactions to animal proteins, where a plant-based diet could be beneficial.
Ultimately, if you can identify what the sensitivity or allergen is, then at least when you are cooking your dog’s food yourself, you have that control to include or exclude specific food types.
How can I make nutritionally complete homemade dog food?
This is something that can strike fear into any dog parent’s heart. But don’t worry, you can do it with a bit of help!
Here are just two of the businesses that can help you:
They supply all the necessary supplements, food kits, recipes, knowledge and advice that you will need, and some free samples too!
Do bear in mind that you must add appropriate supplements when cooking food for dogs.
If you think about it, we humans have managed to feed ourselves and survive for many thousands of years. We know how to do it, and most of us manage to keep ourselves pretty healthy in the main.
We are surprisingly quite knowledgeable about our own diets. For example, we know that most of us in the UK don’t get enough exposure to the sun and should therefore be supplementing with Vitamin D3.
Similarly, dogs too have survived and evolved through the millennia without commercial dog food. It’s just that in more recent years, we seem to have become fearful about using our instincts and knowledge, and reliant on the ‘pet food giants’ to feed our animal companions instead.
But this article isn’t about why that has happened. It is about how you can cook for your own dog, if that’s what you have decided to do. Importantly, it does require a bit of knowledge and some supplementation to make sure that your pooch has a nutritionally complete diet.
However, don’t let that frighten you – it’s really very easy, you can quickly learn how to do it, and there are some small, very knowledgeable businesses out there that can help you to do so successfully.
Is there a vet-approved homemade dog food?
Yes, there are vet-approved homemade dog food kits and recipes available, with some vets gradually coming round to supporting the idea, and others who positively promote it.
Dr Arielle Griffiths is one such vet and she is also the founder of Just Be Kind Dog Food mentioned above. Fleetful home-cook dog food kits, and all the required supplements, are available on the Just Be Kind online store.
You will also find some amazing vet-approved dog food recipes on this site, with all the measurements calculated for you, depending on the size of your dog.
These vet-approved home-cook dog food kits are also available direct from Fleetful
If you have done your research on the internet, you may well have found a lot of content warning you about the negative impacts of cooking food for dogs at home.
I suspect their fear is that people don’t have the required knowledge to produce a balanced, nutritionally-complete meal for their dog (or they may just have a vested interest in the dog meat industry!)
However, with appropriate knowledge, there is no reason why you shouldn’t cook at home for your dog, and there is certainly some emerging evidence to show that it is actually beneficial.
Should I take a dog nutrition course?
I would certainly recommend it. I recently completed an excellent online course by Dr Arielle Griffiths. It has given me a great deal of confidence and reassured me that I can successfully prepare and cook my dog’s food, safe in the knowledge that it will be balanced and nutritionally complete.
Importantly, the course also helps with understanding different health conditions and how to adapt your dog’s diet to support them. That has been invaluable for me and for Coco (the dog!)
If you look for dog nutrition courses online however, many will be related to academic qualifications and degrees, enabling people to become certified dog nutritionists.
I didn’t want to be one of those, and I didn’t need to be one either! I just wanted to be sure that I could cook food for my dog that would keep her healthy and happy, and give her a tasty and varied diet.
Consequently, I was delighted with the dog nutrition course offered by Dr Arielle Griffiths. I found it accessible, easy to understand, and it provided me with clear, practical information.
If that is something you are interested in doing (and I really do strongly recommend it if you want to understand how to give your dog a healthy, high-quality diet), then I have provided a link below.
The course comes in 2 parts – part 1 is £25 and part 2 is £85. Please note that this link to Dr Arielle Griffiths’ course takes you straight to a payment page which gives you a discount of £20 if you purchase both parts. If you would like to find out more information about the course first, take a look at the Dog Nutrition Course page
Vegan Mum's conclusion on cooking food for dogs
My conclusion, without any doubt, is that cooking food for dogs at home is a very safe, and very positive thing to do.
However, to ensure that it is nutritionally complete and balanced, it is important to know what to include. That is why I have recommended contacting Just be Kind Dog Food and Fleetful. I have found their advice and products to be invaluable and I wouldn’t have liked to move Coco to a home-cooked diet without them.
Now I have that knowledge and insight, I am much more confident about how to feed Coco, and with what – I have chosen to feed her a plant-based diet, using a combination of home-cooked food and a commercially-prepared vegan dog kibble.
Yoitu can read my article on the Best Vegan Dog Foods here if you’d like to know more about the latter.
There are 2 important things to finish with:
- If challenged about your dog’s diet, remember that it’s not what they eat, it’s whether it’s good for them and gives them the nutrients they need
- Cooking food for dogs is fun!
I hope you have found this Cooking Food for Dogs Guide helpful. I have more helpful articles which you may be interested to read, so visit my Vegan Mum Lifestyle page for more information.
FAQs on Cooking Food for Dogs
At a top level, in no particular order, you should be including:
- vitamins and minerals
- healthy oils/fats
For the sources of these ingredients and to understand the ratios required, I would refer you to my full guide to Cooking Food for Dogs above, and to take appropriate advice.
There is emerging research that suggests that this is the case, particularly if their diet is plant-based.
To understand this more fully, I would suggest you look at Dr Arielle Griffiths’ Just be Kind Dog Food website where you can sign up for her dog nutrition course, or find out more about recent research findings.
Some vets will fully support homemade food for dogs, but others will be sceptical. There may be 2 reasons for this:
- Like GPs, general practice vets do not necessarily have much training in nutrition and so rely on commercially-prepared dog foods
- Some vets may be concerned that you do not have the required knowledge to cater for your dog’s full nutritional needs
There could be good reason for the latter because dogs do have some very specific vitamin and mineral requirements that you are unlikely to provide without supplementation. Again this is why I have provided details of the experts in this area.
You should supplement any homemade food that you cook for your dog with vitamins, minerals and oils like:
- Vitamin D3
- Omega 3
and an array of other nutrients. However, it is strongly recommended to use a supplement that has been specially prepared for dogs to ensure you cover all the requirements, and in the right amounts.
I recommend Just be Kind’s Supplements